How mindless is our eating?
We find the typical person believes they make 15 decisions about food a day, but in reality they make well over 200. Take this morning ' you decide what kind of cereal you want, whether you want half a bowl or a full bowl, whether or not to have a refill, put whole milk or skim milk on it, and whether or not to put sugar on it. So before you even have a bite to eat you've implicitly made at least a dozen decisions. The problem lies in that most people think they've only made one, whether to have Corn Flakes or Fruit Loops. There's in fact all of these other things around us that can be traps.
What are some of these traps?
One is when it comes to determining what portion we're going to pour and eat. What's the right amount of cereal or popcorn to pour? Who knows? So we look around us very subconsciously for cues to suggest the appropriate amount. Those cues might be the size of the bowl, size of a plate ' 6 ounces of pasta on an 8-inch plate looks like a pretty good serving, but those same 6 ounces on a 12-inch plate doesn't even look like an appetizer. So just visually you're going to use more ' in fact, 25 percent more if you bump up the size of the plate. Proximity of the food to where we're sitting is another. We did an experiment with secretaries where we gave them free Hershey Kisses on their desk. Every night we would go and refill the dish. We found if we put it on their desk, they would eat about nine of these kisses a day. If we put it a few feet away, the number dropped down to four.
Yes, but food still has to taste good, doesn't it?
When we've talked to people who said they've overeaten in a given situation and asked them why, they usually say they were really hungry, or the food was really good. These two things do influence people, but so do very simple cues around us. We designed this situation in a movie theater where people were neither hungry nor given good food. We took people, who had just finished dinner, and we gave them popcorn that was 14 days old ' it was like Styrofoam pellets. We gave it to them in large or medium sized buckets. Even though these people were full and even though the popcorn was terrible, they still ended up eating 35 percent more if they were given a bigger bucket.
People will eat more just because the bucket is bigger?
That's what makes these cues around us so powerful. We all believe that we're too smart to be influenced by them. We believe we're independent minded and masters of our own destinies. To acknowledge that something silly like the size of a dish would cause us to eat twice as much is a thorn to our own self-identity. The difference between being two to three pounds heavier one year from today is really just the difference between eating 25 more calories a day, and that's the difference of five M&Ms a day for a year.
Five M&Ms isn't much, but what about the other direction? How much can we cut out, but not really notice?
Nobody gains 50 pounds overnight. Most people gain 50 pounds at the rate of 2-5 pounds per year. Yet when we want to lose weight, we expect to lose that 50 pounds over a weekend. If we go on a deprivation diet ' you know one of the popular ones ' we might lose the weight, but it's very temporary because we haven't changed the rest of the patterns in our lives. The key to losing that weight is to do it the same way we gained it, which is reasonably slow. We can cut 300-400 calories out of our day, everyday. We won't really notice it; we won't feel deprived, but over the course of year that's 30-40 pounds.
You don't think too much of most diets, which you consider deprivation. What's the alternative?
There are people out there who say, "That's it, I'm never going to have French fries; I'm never going to have pizza; or I'm never going to eat cheese again." Isn't life too short to be doing this sort of stuff? Instead we find if people at least get a taste of the food they like, get a fix, what it does is prevent this backfiring that deprivation can cause in the long term. If you say you're never going to eat another French fry again, it's not going to be long before you hate yourself, your diet, and are eating every French fry McDonald's can make in an hour.
So we don't need to deprive ourselves, but we should cut down on the amount?
We want to re-engineer our homes, change our patterns, so we eat 200 fewer calories a day instead of 200 more. If we buy bulk amounts of cookies, we break them down into smaller bags, so we're not tempted to eat them all at once. We store them somewhere, so they aren't sitting on the table waiting for us to devour. Move the cookie jar out of our traffic path, or better yet replace it with a fruit bowl. It also makes a difference where we decide to store foods in our house, whether we put them in that convenient cupboard we open 30 times a day, or we put them down low, up high, or behind other items.
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The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
The recently established Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association will host a special viewing of the upcoming New Orleans Saints taking on the Carolina Panthers in the open air of Parc Sans Souci on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Belief in a national outbreak of the Ebola zombie virus is becoming more of a threat every day, and The Hayride — Louisiana’s one true bastion for unrelentingly conservative political commentaries — thought it wise to share a certain special someone's “important message” with readers Tuesday on what to do when, not if, it comes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
JPMorgan Chase is giving $1 million to Louisiana's community and technical colleges, to help with workforce training efforts to match students to available jobs.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising.
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Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.